Born to Hand Jive

Forgive me if I’ve been all about the random and not so much the travel. My brain has been stuck on “Oh! Shiny!” since we got back to Hawaii.  A few minor-but-taxing baby and daddy illnesses, lots of long dinners with Tom’s coworkers, some molars popping through and the like are causing our attempts to get back on our usual schedule to die the death-by-a-thousand-papercuts way.  So you get a story instead!

My high school was big on international travel. Well…sort of. The two longest-standing members of the English department were big on international travel and tied it into the senior AP English lesson plans, so if you were in AP English you got first dibs on a spot that year’s EF Tour over April break.  The trip my senior year was called “Shakespeare, Dickens and Scott” and was basically an excuse to drink your way from London to Edinburgh and back down to York and everywhere else in between. Pub ho!  Pass the cider!

Two other things bear mentioning before I continue further.  One: there was an exceptionally high concentration of theater types in class that year, and thus most of us performed in the spring musical: Grease. (I was a stage manager, my best friend was Kenickie, and most of our friends were in the lead and/or chorus and/or dancers.)  Two: the week after my 18th birthday and perhaps a bit later than my peers, I had discovered the myriad joys of cheap vodka on a college tour and shared what I had learned at that year’s New Year’s Eve party.  I had not yet learned moderation or gotten over the novelty of a buzz.  My parents sensibly signed the waiver absolving our chaperones from any stupidity on my part, and thus I was legal, mere weeks from graduation, and liability-free that lovely week in the UK.

Aside from some drinking here and there, I mostly behaved myself until we arrived in Edinburgh.  Perhaps it was the company, perhaps it was the fear that all the alcohol in Scotland would go bad if we didn’t drink it immediately, but I got rowdy.  I’ve since learned first-time drinkers go one of two ways: straight to the cheap keg/rail liquor and do shots to get drunk, or order one of every exotic-sounding cocktail they’ve ever heard of and always wanted to try.  This is how I ended up mixing Tequila Sunrises with Screwdrivers with Sex on the Beach with Screaming Orgasms with White Russians with even more Screwdrivers and liberal chugs from a 3-liter bottle of hard cider.

In short, I was lit up like Vegas on fight night.  But that’s no excuse for what happened next.

A cluster of us migrated to a club.  The drinks were cheap and on a Wednesday night, it wasn’t really packed.  The music was largely songs from the 70s.  And then…oh then…the DJ played the last song he should have ever picked for a group of theater kids drunker than Mel Gibson.  And as the strains of “Born To Hand Jive” rose from the speakers, so did we all.  We taught each and ever Scot in that club how to hand jive.  We bopped and hopped and we hand-motherfucking-jived until our little hearts were about to burst from joy.  Maybe this is why I don’t watch “Glee.”  I’ve lived it before.

Our punishment for inflicting such cultural atrocities on the Scots followed immediately: we had to navigate home through windy hilly streets that doubled and then trebled before our eyes, all while in uncomfortable footwear.  The hotel itself was wallpapered in luridly bright plaid, so terrible that it caused almost immediate hallucinations.  My suitemate found me slumped against the door complaining to no one that the door wouldn’t open and why wasn’t anyone opening the door and I WAS DOT NRUNK, AH SWURR. She immediately ran for reinforcements to help put me to bed.  And so to top off the evening, I made a sodden, groping pass at my boyfriend as he poured me into bed, which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal were it not for the fact that I forgot my English teacher was in the room, helping him.

So let that be a lesson to you, children: on your first trip overseas, you should enjoy yourselves. You should drink if you so choose. But do so in groups.  Don’t mix your tequila/citrus beverages with dairy-based drinks. Try not to molest anyone in front of the people who have written your college recommendation letters.

And do not ever, ever, ever hand jive in mixed company.



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